Man sentenced to 10 years for porn production

Former Arundel resident taped girl, 9, as she slept

October 07, 2003|By Gail Gibson | Gail Gibson,SUN STAFF

A former Glen Burnie resident convicted on a rare charge of pornography production was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison yesterday - a mandatory minimum sentence that his attorney complained failed to recognize details about the crime or defendant that could argue for a lighter punishment.

Gordon Elliott Thomas III, 29, pleaded guilty in June to one count of producing child pornography. Thomas, who most recently has lived with his mother and stepfather in Connecticut, admitted that he had videotaped a 9-year-old female neighbor - whom he sometimes cared for - in Glen Burnie after pulling down her underwear as she slept.

U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake, who handed down the sentence, said she would not comment on the wisdom of mandatory sentences but said she considered the 10-year term to be a "very sufficient, very severe sentence."

Although Thomas pleaded guilty, First Assistant Federal Public Defender Gary W. Christopher said he had reserved the right to appeal the conviction on the grounds that the details of the crime did not fit the statute.

The law makes it a crime to entice children to engage in sexually explicit conduct that is then photographed or recorded. In the case against Thomas, Christopher plans to argue on appeal that the girl was asleep throughout the incident and therefore never was engaged in any sexual conduct.

Christopher argued in court that Thomas' case illustrated the problems with the rigidity of mandatory minimum sentences. But Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan P. Luna noted that Thomas could be facing more time. The "Protect Act" passed by Congress last spring now requires a 15-year minimum term for pornography production crimes.

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